The Fulcrum evaluates interesting music releases from the past week.
Single of the Week: “Protect the Land” by System of a Down 5/5
After 15 years of silence from System of a Down, we finally have some new music since their hit album Hypnotize, released in 2005. Due to interpersonal conflicts between the members, the band has not been able to produce the award-winning tracks they were once known for. However, the group has been brought together by the war that has broken out in Armenia.
Inspired by their Armenian origins, the group’s newest single “Protect the Land” touches on the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the recent Nagorno-Karabakh War that restarted in late September this year. System of a Down has stated that proceeds from the songs will be used for relief of Armenian people as a result of the conflict.
In line with their past releases, “Protect the Land” is a political song with lyrics which describe the people who decided to take a stand to protect their country, as well as what happened to those who tried to flee. Combining the metal instrumentals with the powerful lyrics creates a great emotional experience for listeners. System of a Down’s sound can be a bit aggressive, like in their songs “B.Y.O.B” and “Sugar.” However, this new release is a little easier on the ears: it conveys the somber message to listeners well.
Highlighted Album: Intervals: Circadian 4/5
Based in Toronto, Intervals is a Canadian progressive metal band whose music is purely instrumental. Circadian is no exception, and akin to their past releases, this eight-song album includes some awesome new riffs and solos.
The opening song “5-HTP” starts the album off with a bunch of different yet exciting sounds, showing off the correlation between the name of the song (a drug which increases the serotonin levels in the body) to the music.
The track after it, “Vantablack,” gives a different feel right out of the gate. It is immediately more djent-y and fast-paced in its sound, but slows down into a cool bass then guitar solo until picking up right where it left off. However, the contrast between this song and “5-HTP” is a bit of a shock, especially right in the beginning.
“Lock and Key” brings listeners back to the djent sound, but at a slower tempo, and includes a great, highly memorable riff that sets it apart from the rest. The album moves onto “Signal Hill,” a high energy and uplifting song, making it a special highlight.
The album finishes off with “Earthing,” a song which includes a more subdued guitar sound that is definitely less action-packed than some of the songs before it, but does well to bring the album to a close.
Discovery of the Week: American Football
Having never heard of the genre midwest emo, it was easy to be intrigued by American Football’s music. Their lighter and softer approach is refreshing, and provides a nice, almost soothing tone compared to other rock titles.
Made up of guitarist Steve Holmes, percussionist Steve Lamos, vocalist and guitarist Mike Kinsella, and bass guitarist Nate Kinsella, American Football is a math rock emo band that pairs irregular time signatures with emotional vocals to create a unique twist on existing genres.
Their first album (self-titled), released back in 1999, contains several of their most well known songs. However, they have been releasing music all the way up through 2019 so far. Their most popular song, “Never Meant,” tells a story of how a relationship has fallen apart over words said in an argument. The heartbreaking lyrics and the high notes throughout the song create the feeling of losing something so amazing over words that were never meant to be said.